EVERY church struggles with the tension of reaching new people and taking care of the ones already there. Churches and the people in them can drift and lose sight of the important things. There is no perfect church or perfect way of doing church. But every church can drift and become isolated from the world around us and lose it’s effectiveness.
When you are drifting you don’t even notice. You just wake up one day and you are in a different place
So here are 3 things that we as a church need to fight against drifting toward:
o We know our favorite songs and complain when they aren’t played – My preferences instead of what is effective in reaching other people.
o These are our people, we take care of our own at the expense of reaching out and caring for others.
o I have been in the same small group for 10 years instead of thinking about how to include some others in building close community and stretching myself by starting a new group.
o We complain that we don’t know everyone anymore when the church grows, instead of celebrating that more people are connecting with God.
o We focus on the people who are here and don’t have a passion for the people not yet here.
o We focus on church programs or activities and not people.
o We try to please the insiders and turn off outsiders.
o We think we have the best children’s programs, the Best student program, the Best preaching and we stop trying to improve or innovate.
o We stop learning and improving or changing.
How do we fight this drift?
Let’s focus more on who we want to reach, rather than who we are trying to keep. That does not mean we don’t care about the people already here, it’s important to help everyone grow. It’s about the main focus always being to reach more people that do not know Christ.
How do we fight this Drift?
We always err on the side of Grace
o Jesus spent time with Sinners and called the religious people hypocrites.
o Matthew was a tax collector, which was a despised position, cheating people and taking their money. Jesus asking him to follow me, he didn’t ask him to clean up his act first.
o Jesus said in Mark 2:17, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
o Churches are the same way
o In the beginning we had nothing but a vision, but then as we grew there is more to lose and so we become more conservative and fearful of losing what we have.
o Jews: “we have to PRESERVE the law!”
How do we fight this drift?
Let’s remain openhanded in our attempts to advance the message of Jesus Christ
Open handed means giving freely and generously
o Attend, volunteer, give, connect, pray and take responsibility for all your relationships. Find a place where your challenged, and encouraged to grow and be a part of something bigger than yourself. Find a place where your children love going and are learning and growing and connecting with God and helping you as a parent to teach them about faith.
o Commit to be both deep by doing what God tells us to do, loving well and wide by investing in people.
Recently I had a conversation with some people that attend and volunteer at the church that I work at. As we talked about some of the conversations they had at work and in the community, I heard several times that many of the people they talk to about church say “Oh you go to That Church”. Now I’m guessing that the comment comes from people that are either already going to a church or grew up in church. The reason I say that is because people that are familiar with church tend to have a picture of what a church should be like. I know that I had those same thoughts when I first heard about NewPointe over 17 years ago. I questioned why they did certain things and why they didn’t do certain things. But then I tried it and was changed forever, my picture of church was wrecked in a good way.
When a church comes along that doesn’t line up with our picture of the church we grew up with or currently attend, we will question the validity of that church. Most people’s natural tendency is to poke fun or shoot holes in something they don’t understand.
I actually love that people would say you go to “That Church”. That means that we are getting noticed and people are actually talking about church, maybe in a way that they have not talked before. It leads to spiritual conversations and gets people thinking. There is no perfect church, because there are no perfect people. As a church leader I don’t claim to know it all or have the best way of doing things. I want to create a place where people can connect with God and other people.
So here are some things I love about That Church, otherwise known as NewPointe Community Church:
This week I taught a class entitled “The Top Ten Relational Needs”. It is based on a workbook by that title from Great Commandment Network.
God made us with needs, and God promised to meet those needs.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Paul is telling us that God is willing and able to meet all of our needs. It also acknowledges that we all have needs as human beings
Neediness is a characteristic of our God-given identities.
Here are the Top Ten Relational Needs:
These needs are the same for anyone, no matter where your from, no matter how young or old you are.
It’s OK to have needs, it doesn’t mean your weak. When we understand our needs, it humbles us and builds our character.
Only God and other people can meet our needs. Why did God create us this way?
My question for you is this. Of the top ten relational needs listed above, which three are most important to you and which three are most important to your spouse or significant person in your life? If you can figure that out and then communicate clearly to each other about it, your relationship will begin to improve. You can control whether or not you are meeting these needs with others, you cannot control whether others will meet your needs. However, if you are loving and serving the other person the likelihood of them meeting your needs goes way up. If your too needy, that pushes everyone away from you. You have to first meet the needs of others and show that you can do it in a healthy way.